Yarraville-Footscray Bowling Club, 339A Francis St, Yarraville. Phone: 9314 4530
We love the way doing Consider The Sauce has changed our world – with the trying of more and different food just the start of it.
Happily, we are also finding ourselves meeting and conversing with a dazzling range of western suburbs folk whom we might never have otherwise met.
Equally happily, CTS is helping us look at our surroundings with a whole new set of eyes – not to mention tastebuds.
For this lunch on an overcast Thursday, though, I am merely hoping my lunch tastes better than it looks.
Heading out for my standard routine of Lebanese pie and shopping at the Circle in Altona, I surprise myself by turning right, suddenly inspired by the idea of checking out the Yarraville-Footscray Bowling Club.
After all, this is prime-time western suburbs – a venerable institution on Francis St past which we’ve driven a gazillion times without ever stopping to have a look. Or a feed.
I shudder at the mere glimpse of poker machines but march on and in – eventually discovering that not all “pokie venues” are the same.
The club’s bistro is called bowlz @ the deck, and it’s in that direction I head, sidestepping the lure of a snacky bar menu on which just about everything is under $10.
Most of the proper menu is beyond my lunch budget, but I zero in on the “seniors” section of the main list, every item on which goes for $11.90 at lunchtime Tuesdays through Thursdays.
On it are such things as rissoles and mash, whiting fillets and roast of the day.
The club also nominates Mondays as steak night, on which rump goes for $13.90, scotch for $5.90 and 600g T-bone for $21.90.
It’s no surprise my shepherd’s pie is quite unlike that what was made by mum – and maybe still is. She’ll no doubt let me know when she reads this. (Hi Mum!)
Her way is the traditional way and involves leftover roast lamb, hand-minced.
The bowlz variation, by contrast, is your basic beef stew topped with mashed spuds. Having said that, it tastes real good – the meat is tender and there’s plenty of it in a rich brown gravy.
The broccoli is overcooked, but the corn, carrots and cauliflower are good.
It’s simple, homely fare and I dig it a lot.
Maybe when I return with Bennie we’ll go for the $6 bar menu roast roll with gravy.
After eating, I wander around taking photos and talking to the staff. It’s a bowls club, yes, but has a warm and lived-in feel. The pokies are somewhat tucked away and obviously not the main game here. Hooray for that, too!
There are only a couple of the bistro tables taken, and it is from one of them that an elderly gent eventually peels away to check out what the weird guy with camera is up to.
This turns out to be Kevin Brown, a former secretary and long-time servant of the club.
After assuring him of my honourable intentions, he spends the wonderful next half hour or so regaling me with stories about the club and the struggles involved in keeping such an enterprise going in the face of threats from various quarters and no government funding at all.
We examine some of the photos that adorn the bistro walls, one of which is a 1950 shot of Anderson St – and still recognisably the same thoroughfare we use today.
I find him inspiring.
We even have a chuckle about the fact that among the club sponsors is a funeral service.
“Just about all bowls clubs have funeral directors on board,” says Kevin. “I’m 80.”
Seems obvious, eh? And somehow both brutally real AND comforting, reassuring.
I leave with a spring in my step, vowing to return sooner rather than later.
The Yarraville-Footscray Bowling Club website is here.